Theater group brings gold to stage

On Friday and Saturday, the Brazos Theatre Group will be performing “Murder Most Green,” an improv, interactive murder mystery show. They will be serving an Irish-themed dinner for guests who would like to enjoy a full dinner with their show. Photo credit: Liesje Powers

The Brazos Theatre Group is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with an Irish-themed mystery, “Murder Most Green,” where audience members can interact with actors to try and pinpoint the killer.

The show begins with the murder of Patrick Flaherty, the owner of a plant nursery. An eclectic group of his relatives and employees gather to discuss the murder, but it’s up to the audience to crack the case.

Melora Roach, who plays Flaherty’s widow, said the show relies heavily on crowd involvement. Audience members will have several opportunities to interrogate each character, and guests can submit their pick for the murderer at the end of the show. Those who guess correctly will win a free T-shirt.

“It’s 100 percent audience participation,” Roach said. “You can interact, so it’s not just sitting and watching. You’re a part of what we’re doing.”

Roach described the show as a cross between an improv show and a straight play. Cast members prepare by studying their characters’ backgrounds and alibis from a character sheet. Some bits of dialogue are memorized, but they also improvise when responding to questions from the audience.

“It’s something that people think you have to drive to Dallas or Austin to participate in,” Roach said, “but it’s here, right around the corner.”

Cast member Dr. Joel Michaelis, who received his doctorate at Baylor, said actors and audience members alike might be surprised by the murderer’s identity.

“We know the specifics of our character, and that’s it,” Michaelis said. “Not only does my character not know [the killer’s identity], but I, Joel, do not know.”

Michaelis said his favorite part of being in a show like “Murder Most Green” is meeting talented actors from all across the Waco area. When he’s not practicing his Irish accent for his performance as Rory O’Casey, Michaelis serves as the campus dean for Navarro College.

“One of the interesting things about any kind of community theater is that you get people from all walks of life with different levels of educations and different types of jobs,” Michaelis said.

Both Michaelis and Roach have been involved in the Brazos Theatre Group since its inception in 2013.

Founding Director Beth Richards said she had the idea for the group because dinner theater was a form of entertainment Waco didn’t offer at the time.

Besides mysteries like “Murder Most Green,” the Brazos Theatre Group also offers improv comedy shows on the first Friday of every month.

“At the Brazos Theatre, we’re all about entertainment,” Richards said. “Every time you come to our theater, you’re going to leave with a smile on your face.”

Richards said she encourages Baylor students to come wearing their best St. Patrick’s Day attire. The winner for best costume will receive a prize from the theatre after the show.

An Irish dinner will also be served to those who purchase the dinner theater ticket. The dinner is catered by Patti’s Kitchen and will include salad, rolls, corned beef, beverages, dessert and, of course, roast potatoes.

Those wishing to play detective for a night can purchase a ticket on the Brazos Theatre Group’s website. With a student discount, a general admission ticket costs $14.50, and a ticket that includes dinner costs $25.50.